When giving hearts intersect with new technology, you get solutions to problems you may not have realized were possible. Jason Wasson and Josh Teague, two Saline County residents, recently set their 3D Printers into motion to print straps for masks that protect healthcare staff. These workers sometimes wear masks for hours at a time, and the usual elasticized bands which go around their ears can be irritating. The 3D-printed straps enable the masks to be worn via a connecting piece of silicone around the back of the head, relieving uncomfortable pressure on the backs of the ear.
“I've seen many articles on Facebook about nurses and doctors and how the masks, after wearing them for hours every day, can cause painful, irritated skin and are uncomfortable,” said Wasson. “With our medical personnel needing more PPE (personal protective equipment) and having to wear them for longer periods of time, I knew it would only be a matter of time before they were having the same problems, if they weren't already.”
Wasson got together with his friend, Josh Teague, and decided that the need would soon arise, and they wanted to help out. They began printing the straps so local healthcare professionals would not suffer from their required PPE.
Wasson is a disabled U.S. Army veteran, and Teague works for Parker Hannifin in Slater, formerly ClarCor. Wasson is engaged to Brenda Beatty and Teague is engaged to Kari Vereyken. Both women work as Advertising Account Executives at the Marshall Democrat-News.
The design utilized by the duo was provided by a 3D printing company named Sovol 3D. Sovol 3D provided their design to the public to help local communities.
Jeremy Lucas began using his 3D printer to create reusable face shield holders for Fitzgibbon Hospital after a request from California for the highly sought-after personal protective equipment. He utilizes 3D printing as a hobby as part of his business, Backwoods Design.
“My 3D Printer is ‘registered’ through the 3D printing community, which means people contact me for special jobs. I was contacted to print these shields and send them to California and I thought it would be better for me to reach out to our local hospital here,” said Lucas. “I called Fitzgibbon to see if they would be willing to accept our 3D printed shields. The staff there welcomed them, and so I started printing and donating them. All of the materials I have provided out of my pocket.”
The Marshall resident has found time to print and assemble 100 face shields so far, despite working seven days a week at ConAgra. The shields utilize clear pieces of plastic normally used for overhead transparencies which are seldom utilized today. This new application breathes new life into the old standby material used in classrooms for decades. The pattern used to 3D print the shield straps, which actually holds the clear face shield, was provided by a company named 3DVerkstan from Sweden. In a description of the pattern, the company states:
“This is our first attempt to try helping our heroes who are helping people that are sick and in need. There is a shortage of protective gear for doctors and nurses, so we’ve designed a frame for holding standard sized plastic sheets.”
3D printing is a method used to create a 3D printed object from a digital file. While the technology first was released in 1987, the first 3D printers for home use were not affordable until 2009. 3D printers typically start at a cost of $200 for the most basic of printers and can cost several thousand dollars for more advanced features and capabilities.
Fitzgibbon Hospital is grateful to these individuals as well as others in the community who are rallying behind our healthcare workers as they deal with the realities that COVID-19 has caused.
For the most up-to-date information on Fitzgibbon Hospital’s response to COVID-19, frequently check www.fitzgibbon.org/covid19. Information is updated on this web page as soon as it is available.